Are you a young scientist who has obtained a PhD in organic, bioorganic, or medicinal chemistry within the past five years? Have you just returned (or are planning to soon return) from at least a yearlong post-doctoral research stay abroad and are thinking about establishing your own research group in the Czech Republic? 

The Experientia Foundation is offering you a unique opportunity to apply for start-up grant to launch your own research group’s activities. These start-up grants will be awarded for a period of three years to young scientists who have spent at least a year conducting research abroad. The research group will receive a total of CZK 2 million every year. The workplace and laboratory equipment will be provided by the host institution. 

Ondřej Baszczyňski became the first to receive an Experientia Foundation start-ugrant, and, on 1 January 2019, he established a research group at the Charles University Faculty of Science. His group is focusing on medicinal chemistry and the targeted delivery of biologically active compounds with the use of phosphate-based prodrugsYou can read more about the group’s research on their website. 

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR APPLYING?

Applications for start-up grants may be submitted until 31 May of every year. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WISH TO APPLY FOR A START-UP GRANT?

If you intend to apply for a start-up grant, you can be assured that you may consult with us about your project at any time. We will be happy to advise you. 

  1. Conceptualise an original organic, bioorganic, or medicinal chemistry project. 
  2. Contact Dr Bohumír Valter, the Experientia Foundation Director, by sending him your initial idea via email to: experientia@experientia.cz. After a consultation with him, you will receive a draft of the Experientia Start-up Grant Award Agreement, Setting Out the Rights and Obligations of the Contracting Parties (to be entered into between you, the Experientia Foundation, and the relevant host institution).  
  3. Contact the host institution at which you are planning to establish your research group. 
  4. Submit your grant application to the Experientia Foundation Director by no later than 31 May. 

WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE START-UP GRANT APPLICATION?

The project proposal must be submitted in English and it must include the following: 

  1. Project name 
  2. Information about the research team members (or a description of the available positions if the names of specific individuals are not yet known at the time the application is submitted) 
  3. An abstract of the project (no more than 1,000 characters in length) 
  4. An introduction to your scientific project (four to five pages in length, including relevant citations and images) 
    • project objectives 
    • extent of relevant findings to date 
    • analysis of the proposed procedures to achieve the project objectives 
    • explanation of how the project significantly advances the boundaries of knowledge and an identification of the risks involved 
    • identification of the workplace where the project will be realised 
  5. Information about you as the primary investigator:
    • your personal information (name, surname, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address) 
    • your structured CV 
    • list containing no more than five of your most important publications 
    • complete list of all of your publications, as well as any other outputs from your scientific work 
    • information about your research stay abroad 
  6. Two letters of recommendation providing evidence of your academic profile, preferably from two different institutions and, if possible, from two different countries 
  7. An overview of the expected costs for the entire duration of the project 
  8. A letter from the official representative of the host institution confirming the following: 
    • The status of the principal investigator’s research group (within the framework of the organisational structure of the workplace) 
    • The commitment to co-finance the Experientia Foundation startugrant in an amount of CZK 700,000 per year (in accordance with Article III.1) 
    • Consent to provide laboratory space corresponding to the size of the research team, including the required furnishings and fittings and access to the workplace’s equipment and any other required areas in the event that the Experientia Foundation startugrant is awarded 

HOW SHOULD I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION?

Submit the complete written application, including all of the required attachments, by 31 May of the relevant year either electronically (as PDF file) via email to experientia@experientia.cz, or by post or delivering it personally to the Experientia Foundation’s address. You will receive an email from us confirming receipt of your application.  

HOW WILL MY APPLICATION BE ASSESSED?

For each project proposal we assess both its overall quality, or more precisely, its level of scientific excellence, as well as the clearly defined research objective of the project, how ambitious it is, its high-risk/high-gain aspects, the originality of the project, and your self-sufficiency and independence. We place particular focus on whether the submitted project is sufficiently different from any of your previous projects (mainly from the projects you completed for your doctoral studies and during your post-doctoral research). Your previous scientific activities also play a role, with emphasis placed on the excellence of results. 

All project proposals are assessed by at least two independent expert appraisers who are selected by the Experientia Foundation Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees makes the final decision on the basis of these expert assessments. 

WHEN WILL I FIND OUT IF I WILL RECEIVE A START-UP GRANT?

A final decision will be made by no later than 30 June of the relevant year. 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IF I AM AWARDED A START-UP GRANT?

If our decision regarding your application is positive, we will conclude the Experientia Start-up Grant Award Agreement, Setting Out the Rights and Obligations of the Contracting Parties with you. 

This agreement will be concluded by you, the host institution, and the Experientia Foundation by no later than 15 December of the relevant year.  

As the principal investigator, you will become an employee of the host institution and will be responsible for the proper and prudent use of the allocated resources and for compliance with the conditions of the Experientia Foundation start-ugrant. The host institution will carry out regular audits of how the financial resources are used.  

You will also be obliged to submit an annual report by 15 January of each year providing information about project progress that will be no more than four pages in length (including images), and an overview of the financial resources that have been used, particularly the funds provided by the Experientia Foundation and the funds provided by the host institution. This financial overview should also contain an outline of the budget for the next calendar year. Your report will be assessed by independent appraisers chosen by the Experientia Foundation Board of Trustees. If the project is assessed positively, you will receive confirmation of financing for an additional calendar year within one month of the date we receive your annual report. 

We expect that during the period of time you are carrying out the project funded by the Experientia Foundation start-ugrant, you, as the principal investigator, will submit an application for an ERC Grant from the European Research Council. 

You are obliged to submit a final report within three months of the end of your project. This final report should be no longer than six pages (including images) and must contain a description of all research activities, a list of published outputs, and a written overall evaluation of the results. 

As the projects’ principal investigator, you are also obliged to, in the November of the final year of the project, deliver a lecture at the Liblice Conference on Advances in Organic, Bioorganic, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. 

Additionally, in all publications and outputs originating with the support of the Experientia Foundation start-ugrant, you are obliged to specify the sponsorship of the Experientia Foundation. You are also required to specify the precise affiliation all authors have with the host institution in the published outputs. 

FAQ

May I apply for a start-up grant even before I complete my year-long research stay?

Yes, you may. 

Which host institutions is it possible to contact in connection with the Experientia Foundation start-up grant programme?

We have received positive responses from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, Palacký University in Olomouc, the Charles University Faculty of Science in Prague, the Charles University Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové, and the University of Pardubice. It is, however, possible to contact other universities and research institutions as well. 

Must I already be an employee of the host institution at the time I submit my grant application?

No, but you must become their employee no later than on the date the project is started, i.e. 1 January of the relevant year. 

May I also lecture at the host institution in addition to my 100% commitment to the start-up grant project?

Yes. Not only is it possible, it is also desirable. However, the teaching hours cannot exceed five hours per week. 

Is the size of the research team limited in any way?

Yes and no. The allocation of the funds to personnel and operational costs is fully within your competence, but you must comply with the financial limits. The host institution will, however, surely be interested in the size of your team, as it is obliged to provide you with adequate laboratory space in accordance with the Start-up Grant Award Agreement. 

May I employ an employee of the workplace (who is not a student or a post-doctoral researcher) as a member of my team?

Yes, you may. It is entirely up to you as to how you form your team. 

How will I be able to use the funds form the grant?

The funds will be deposited to a separate analytical account administered by the host institution, which will be used to pay both the wages of the team members and the operational expenses.  

May I use the grant to purchase computer technology?

Yes, you may. The only thing you may not use the grant for is the purchase of long-term assets, i.e. equipment (or other tangible assets) costing more than CZK 40,000 and software (or other intangible assets) costing more than CZK 60,000. 

May I request a grant to support a theoretical (computer) project that is associated with the relevant fields (organic, bioorganic, and medicinal chemistry)?

Yes, you may. 

May I request funding support for the same project from other Czech and foreign grant agencies?

Yes, you may. 

In which ways may I submit the start-up grant application?

The application may be submitted electronically, by post, or delivered in person to the Experientia Foundation’s address. 

Is it possible for the grant period to be extended if I do not use all of the funding by the end of the third year?

No, it is not. The grant period cannot be extended, and all of the funding must either be used by the end of the grant period or returned to the Experientia Foundation’s bank account. 

If I am not awarded an Experientia Foundation start-up grant, may I reapply the following year?

Yes, you may.